About us – our History
The Workmen’s Circle or Arbeiter Ring, as it’s called in Yiddish, promotes Jewish culture, social justice, education and the Yiddish language through annual lectures, concerts and member meetings. The organization was founded in the United states by European immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who were fleeing persecution and economic hardships. They formed an organization in New York in 1900 which offered mutual aid and community, including Yiddish language and Jewish traditions to subsequent immigrants. Other branches were founded in other American cities and networked together.
Similar hardships existed in Canada and in 1907 and 1908 initial WC/AR branches were established in Montreal and Toronto. By 1917, the International Workmen’s Circle was able to offer fraternal benefits, including medical and insurance benefits, to its members beyond the State of New York. The Toronto Workmen’s Circle, then comprised of more than a single branch, incorporated as a not-for-profit called the Arbeiter Ring, in 1917, and subsequently also joined this union.
2017 marks the 100th anniversary of this incorporation and 2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of our current centre at 471 Lawrence Ave W. in Toronto. On Sunday, May 5, 2019, we will be celebrating these dual milestones with a celebration and a reunion of past and current members, Camp Yungvelt campers, Peretz School students and former WC Colony residents.
We will be contacting all former campers, students, members and those who attended our 2009 celebration. If you haven’t received any correspondence from us, please contact us by phone or email.